Diana M. Pho
Executive Editor at Erewhon Books
My Manuscript Wish List®
[updated August 2023]
About Me: [she/her] I am a Hugo Award-winning developmental editor, public speaker, podcast producer, and all-around nerd, specializing in audio, narrative, and sequential storytelling. My previous jobs include editorial at the Tor Publishing Group and Lead Creative Executive for Co-Productions & Partnerships at the podcast studio Realm. I’m currently Executive Editor at Erewhon Books.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with household names like George R. R. Martin and the Robert Jordan estate for The Wheel of Time, as well as critically acclaimed writers such as Bethany C. Morrow, P. Djèlí Clark, H.A. Clarke, Seth Dickinson, Lara Elena Donnelly, K. A. Doore, Margaret Killjoy, Nadia Shammas, and Benjamin A. Wilgus, among others. Books I’ve edited have won the Thriller Award (A.J. Hartley’s Steeplejack, for Best Young Adult), the Ditmar Award (Thoraiya Dyer’s Crossroads of Canopy, for Best Novel), the American Library Association’s Alex Award (P. Djèlí Clark’s The Black God’s Drums), the Nebula Award (P. Djèlí Clark’s Ring Shout & A Master of Djinn) and a Kirkus Best Book of the Year Selection (Marie Miranda Cruz’s Everlasting Nora, for Middle Grade).
I’m also a three-time Hugo Award finalist (winning for Best Editor, Long-Form in 2021), two-time the Ignyte Award finalist, and a two-time Locus Award finalist for my editorial work.
I am currently acquiring full-length adult and YA-crossover novels only (though that may change in the future).
What I always look for in a manuscript: My editorial tastes veer toward upmarket commercial fiction with an accessible hook. I want stories that are unapologetically noisy, tackle chewy sociopolitical conversations, and impact the wider pop culture conversation. Must haves include:
- Vibrant voice
- Strong emotional core
- Layered world-building
- Complex characters
- Nuanced relationships
- Forward-moving plots
- Queer love is love!
- Anything with a punk / alternative edge
- Can make me cry at least twice and laugh three times
- Top on my priority list is promoting multicultural narratives with authentic characters that portray experiences from marginalized perspectives—whether they encompass gender, gender presentation, sexuality, race/ethnicity, body type, neurodivergent, socioeconomic class, religious status, or disability. I’m especially interested in supporting marginalized writers.
What I’m currently into:
Science Fiction: Near-future, space adventure, cyberpunk, afrofuturism, transhumanism or the singularity, and climate science fiction. I’d also be interested in mainstream fiction with a speculative edge. Subjects I will read endlessly about include transhumanism, virtual realities, time travel, the multiverse, climate utopias (as in “We can save the world with science & good politics!”), cyberpunk multinational futures, and innovative escapist space adventures. Space opera is a hard sell for me.
Fantasy: I fall in love with worldbuilding as much as characters, especially fantasy stories that are strongly rooted in history. Strong aesthetics or “city as character” are my weaknesses. Contemporary fantasy, high fantasy, dark fantasy/ dark academia, romantic fantasy/ romantasy and fairy-tale-retellings are at the top of my list. I have a soft spot for Russian-inspired fiction and other non-Western settings.
Horror: My horror tastes fall under the “small h” rather than “die-hard Horror”: literary with a twisted speculative touch, supernatural, occult, gothic, dark sci-fi, new weird, pulp with a modern twist. (Also, Bruce Campbell is a horror genre of his own — you can fight me on this!) Anything that reminds me of Gravity Falls, Stranger Things, or Over the Garden Wall will get my attention. Other horror writers I enjoy include Tananarive Due, Stephen Graham Jones, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, and Amy Lukavics.
EREWHON BOOKS is an imprint of Kensington Books that focuses on novel-length works of speculative fiction: science fiction, fantasy, and related genres.
At Erewhon, our mission is to publish thoughtful, groundbreaking, and unforgettable books that go straight to the reader’s heart, effortlessly strange stories that take readers on powerful emotional journeys. We embrace the liminal and unclassifiable and champion the unusual, the uncanny, and the hard-to-define.
Our books ask hard questions about issues of sociopolitical change, power and privilege, and the impact of ideas and technologies. They explore and investigate society, poke at social norms, and celebrate the unique, diverse, and underrepresented identities and communities of the world we live in, all through the lens of entertaining, thought-provoking, and risk-taking speculative fiction.
Every book on our list will have strong literary merit and broad appeal to both the growing science fiction and fantasy fan base and mainstream readers who like books with speculative elements.
This vision is executed by a team with many years of experience in publishing and founding new endeavors that change the publishing landscape, under the editorial eye of Sarah Guan, one of the most acclaimed and perceptive editors in the speculative fiction field.
We encourage you to join us on this journey and look forward to connecting you with works of fiction that will delight, captivate, engage, and excite you.
Fun facts about me:
- Having lived in Moscow, I have an interest in any premise involving Russian culture.
- I’m an independent scholar specializing in performance studies and cultural studies. Recent publications include a book chapter on the performance of racial and national identity in steampunk subculture for Like Clockwork: Steampunk Pasts, Presents, and Futures, and a creative works article about Vietnamese postcolonial theater in Neovictorian Studies.
- My favorite tea is lavender earl grey.